France. The year offered unusually difficult trials for
President Jacques Chirac and the French government. When
voters opposite the political establishment's line said no
to the new EU Treaty, it became a real scrap with unforeseen
consequences for the Union. Towards the end of the year,
French suburbs were shaken by riots that became so extensive
that it gave echoes throughout the world.
In early March, President Chirac announced that the
promised referendum on the EU Treaty would be held on May
29. The two largest parties - Chirac's right-wing UMP and
the socialists - supported the jas side. But it was clear
that this was far from a walk away. In addition to opposing
both the Communist Party and the right-wing National Front,
the Socialist Party's second man Laurent Fabius led a
neighbourhood. The opposition was about widely different
things: some considered the treaty to be too neoliberal and
to contain too few labor law and welfare policy guarantees.
Others were mainly opposed to the EU's plans for membership
negotiations with Turkey. In addition, "the Polish plumber"
haunted, an image of concern for competition from cheap
Eastern European labor.
The result in the referendum was unequivocal, close to
55% said no against 45 for the jasmine. The turnout was
high, around 70%. The referendum thus became a severe
setback for Chirac. He responded by re-furnishing the
government. The very unpopular Prime Minister Jean-Pierre
Raffarin went out and was replaced by Minister of the
Interior Dominique de Villepin. At the same time, UMP leader
Nicolas Sarkozy returned as new Minister of the Interior.
countryaah, Sarkozy was given a prominent role when France was shaken
by the most violent crowds in November since the May 1968
revolt. expelled, even if they had a residence permit. The
residents of the vulnerable suburbs largely have their roots
in the former French colonies of North and West Africa. The
suburbs, so-called citÚs, are characterized by high
unemployment, poverty and exclusion. For many, the rattles
became a clear sign of failed integration. The extreme right
breathed morning air and saw an ally in Sarkozy.
The igniting spark of the riots was when two teenage boys
trying to hide from the police were burned to death in a
transformer station in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.
The fatal accident caused angry young people to engage in
harm and enter into street fighting with police. The ravages
continued night after night and soon spread to other suburbs
of Paris and other parts of France. The government
eventually decided to use a 1955 law on emergency permits
that made it possible to impose local curfews. When the
riots erupted after a couple of weeks, a 61-year-old man had
been beaten to death, 3,000 people arrested and 10,000 cars
set on fire. A report from the intelligence service stated
in December that social dissatisfaction was the cause of the
riots and that they arose spontaneously and were not
organized from the outside.
Earlier in the autumn, a conflict over the state-owned
French ferry company caused SNCM violence in the port city
of Marseille and in Corsica. This was in connection with a
strike in protest of the state's plans to privatize SNCM,
which handles ferry services between the mainland and the
Mediterranean island. Ferry traffic was down for just over
three weeks, and disruptions also occurred in ports, at
airports and elsewhere. In mid-October, the strike was
canceled when it became clear that the shipping company was
threatened with bankruptcy. The state had then promised to
retain a 25% share and pump money into the company.
A total of over 40 people were killed in two notable
fires in April and August. There was a debate over housing
policy in Paris, where thousands of poor people live in
substandard rental properties and run-down hotels. Many of
the victims were children and the majority were immigrants